How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it’s Frozen

When Windows 10 works, it’s a great operating system. When it doesn’t, it causes many inconveniences and lots of frustration. Among Microsoft’s peculiarities is its talent for throwing up brain-scratching bugs. Of course, this tech issue was expected when Microsoft disposed of its Quality Assurance team and relied on user feedback instead. Regardless, one of these bugs is the Start Menu freezing.

How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it's Frozen

The good news is that there are a few solutions to a freezing Start Menu in Windows 10. Some are easy; others are trickier. You can try the top four fixes below, from merely shutting down programs to tinkering with Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool. Here are the details.

Fixing the Frozen Start Menu Problem

Given that many symptoms can cause the locked up/frozen Start Menu in Windows 10, a handful of solutions might get your computer back to a functioning state.

1. Check for Corrupt Files

Many problems with Windows come down to corrupt files, and Start menu issues are no exception. To fix this, launch the Task Manager either by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager or hitting Ctrl + Alt + Delete.

  1. Type PowerShell into the Cortana/Search bar, single-click on Windows PowerShell from the list if needed, then right-click and choose Run as Administrator or select it in the right pane.
  2. Type sfc /scannow without quotes and hit Enter. Take note of the space between sfc and /scannow.
  3. If you see the “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them” error, type DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth. You’ll need to be connected online, as Windows will download clean versions of corrupted files and replace them. If you see “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them,” you are all set.

If the above solution doesn’t fix your Windows 10 Start menu freeze-up issues, move on to the next option.

2. Kill the Windows Explorer Process


Killing Windows Explorer is a quick-and-easy fix that may come in handy for various situations, such as when you have non-responsive windows or sporadic issues on the Windows desktop. The process is not guaranteed to work but has saved many Windows users from reinstalling their operating system. Here’s how to kill the Windows Explorer process.

  1. Right-click the Start Menu icon and select Task Manager from the menu or hold down Ctrl + Shift + Escape.
  2. Now, scroll through the Processes tab to find Windows Explorer. If Windows Explorer is already open, you’ll see another entry with a dropdown option, as shown below. Ignore that entry and choose the one without a dropdown.
  3. Next, right-click on the Windows Explorer task specified above and select Restart from the menu.

If restarting Windows Explorer does not solve your freezing Start Menu problem, move on to Solution #3.

3. Rebuild the Index


Indexing is the process of inspecting files, emails, and other types of content within your Windows 10 OS. The method also involves cataloging essential data, such as words, file locations, metadata, etc. If you perform a keyword search in Windows Explorer, you use the indexing process that reviews all stored data to match your search criteria. The index of data helps speed up the search process significantly. Here’s how to rebuild the Windows 10 index.

  1. Hold down Windows Key + R to open the “Run” window. Alternatively, right-click the Start Menu and select Run.
  2. Now, type in control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions without the quotes, and click OK.
  3. Next, click Modify on the bottom left of the Indexing Options window.
  4. From here, click the Show all locations button.
  5. Then, uncheck all the currently ticked locations and select OK.
  6. Now, click Advanced, then click on Rebuild in the Troubleshooting section. A message pops up stating that this may take some time. Click OK to continue.
  7. Once the rebuild is complete, hold down Windows Key + R to open the “Run” window again, then type in shutdown /r without quote marks, and click OK to restart your machine.

If rebuilding the Windows 10 index didn’t fix your reluctant Windows 10 Start Menu lockup, it’s time to create some media.

4. Use the Media Creation Tool

There are several fixes to the Windows 10 Start Menu issue, but the “Media Creation Tool” is the only method widely reported to solve the freezing Start Menu problem. So, if you’ve already made the mistake of embarking on some long-winded fix from a random internet forum and it didn’t work, give this process a try.

The good news is that while using the Media Creation Tool is a bit elongated, it’s the most likely method to fix your issue. The tool won’t delete your existing files when used correctly, although it is worth backing up anything important.

The bad news is that this procedure involves downloading the Microsoft Windows Media Creation Tool and creating Windows 10 installation media on a DVD or USB storage device. If anything goes wrong, you’ll have to perform a clean install of Windows 10 and restore your data from the backup.

Note: When you go through the menus for the installation, ensure that you click Keep files and applications. This step guarantees that the installation process updates or replaces the necessary files and preserves your data and applications. However, it generally won’t keep installed programs.

How to Use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool

  1. Go to Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool site and download the Media Creation Tool, which appears on the page’s bottom section.
  2. Create a system installation disk using the Windows Media Creation Tool.
  3. Double-click on setup.exe from the media you’ve created to launch the installation process.

5. Perform a Fresh Installation

When none of the above procedures stop the Windows 10 Start Menu from freezing or locking up, back up all your data and start a new Windows 10 installation but be sure you have your Windows 10 product key on hand! If you have a fast USB thumb drive or external SSD, installing Windows from there is your best bet—you’ll be done in a half-hour or so.

In closing, a lot can go wrong with an OS, especially one that is as prolific as Windows 10. After all, there are more than 50 million lines of code running behind the scenes of your device. Start with a simple pressing of the Windows key to see if that fixes the issue, and then move on from there.

Windows 10 Start Menu Locked/Frozen FAQs

What causes the Start Menu to freeze?

Many software issues lead to Start Menu problems. First, one common culprit is a new software update. Windows is notorious for leaving users with new glitches and difficulties when a new update has rolled out. If you’ve recently performed an update, try to roll it back or update your machine to a more recent version.

Another cause can be corrupted files. You can perform a scan for corrupted or missing files on your PC using sfc /scannow, but following the steps listed above should fix the issue.

Lastly, malware or a virus can result in problems with your Start Menu. Run a virus scan and clean up your PC to combat any malicious software causing the issue.

How do I access the Settings on my PC without the Start Menu?

Fortunately, Windows gives users plenty of workarounds with keyboard shortcuts. Naturally, when trying to fix errors on your machine, you’ll head to Settings. Simply use the Win + I keyboard shortcut if your Start Menu isn’t working. The Settings menu will appear on the screen, allowing you to check for updates and perform other essential tasks.

30 thoughts on “How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it’s Frozen”

Omda says:
Thanks for your advice
You save my files and effort 👍👍
اشكرك كثيرا لهذه النصائح
الى الى المتابعين بالعربية ، هذه نصاىح راىعة لحل مشكلة قائمة ابدأ في ويندوز ١٠
Lesley Gray says:
So after several days of trying to fix this I finally downloaded the Windows 10 media creation tool thinking it would fix it. Saved it to my external hard drive. Unfortunately it completely changed my external to 2TB to 32GB and wiped everything off of it. All of this because the stupid Windows button wouldn’t work on my screen. Thousands and thousands of photos and files completely gone. I was unaware that I shouldn’t have downloaded onto an external hard drive. I didn’t have an extra flash drive available. Well I guess I’ve learned a lesson. #heartbroken
Steve Larner says:
Use data recovery software to scan and retain savable data on the disc.
no says:
“control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions.” should be “control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions” (no dot)
Ahmed says:
restarting windows explorer fixed it. thanks
Dyulliana Anushkah N/A Toyogon says:
Nothing worked for me so far. This happened after I updated to the Windows 10 new software update
Ezekiel says:
I suggest you uninstall or rollback any Windows Quality update
Alemba Sangs says:
Solution #2 workedThank you so much learned a New thing
rizky says:
thank you so much , i appreciate it bro ?
Remco says:
Step 3 fixed my problem, thanks for the guide!
Amatoe says:
the first did not work for me cos powershell was not responsive when i clicked on it…..but then number two worked like magic… command prompt was also able to load. Thank you soooooooo much.
Ezekiel says:
You can also use “cmd.exe” instead of Powershell
Elaine Smith says:
thanks for putting this information out there.
It really helped me
Dammy says:
Powershell is better as it allows you to run as admin.
Stormy says:
Amazing. 2nd option repaired my start and taskbar! Thanks
Albert Tung says:
Thank you, it solve my windows 10 setting + start menu problem
Neil says:
For me, Windows Explorer wasn’t in the task list for me to kill. So in the Task Manager I went to the File menu, Run new task and typed “explorer” and clicked OK. Once explorer starts and shows in the Task Manager, I killed it.
KAT says:
None of them work 🙁
i think my computer is toast
Nikolche says:
Thank you !!! You are AMAZING. Solution #4 helped me
Ben says:
This fixed it! TYSM!
NorthantsJohn says:
It took until option 3, rebuild the index before my laptop was fixed but fixed it is! Many thanks for these excellent guidance notes.
Dan says:
All I needed to do was do was go to task manager > More details > Scroll down until I saw the program “Start” and then I just killed that task, it then restarted itself and my start tab worked again!
Solution #2 works for me. Thank you very much. I owe you big time. I tried several times the Task Manager but still the start button and other icons won’t open. But when I tried the solution #2, wow it works♥️ Thank you soooooo much♥️ God bless you and continue to help many people out there.
Wen Li Lam says:
Thank you for the step by step guide. I followed all the steps and managed to fix it with Solution #2. Your explanation is clear and easy to follow. Thank you again. I am a happy person now!
kim says:
thank you!
Mario says:
yo! Thanks you so much??
Lenni Alen says:
Managed to try solution 1, unfortunately didn’t fix it. Now it wont’t open Task Manager no matter what I try. Any other way to restart File Explorer or do I need to see a professional?
Steve Larner says:
“sfc /scannow” and “…RestorHealth” should not harm your system. If malware is present, it may remain and cause problems though. You can try typing “explorer.exe” without quotes in the Run dialog or command prompt. If that fails, you may need to reinstall Windows but choose to keep personal files if you need to. Just remember that some personal files may carry malware, spyware, or viruses.
Yof says:
I used both DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth command and the reuild index option …. rebooted my PC and its back. It was really bugging me I couldn’t use night light, start menu, hot spot and settings. Thanks A bunch
tetta says:
The second option worked for me too. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
julie says:
Just press the Windows Key.
Randy says:
Such an insightful comment…..guess what also doesn’t open the start menu when I press that?
Anonymous says:
We are not stupids. You didnt got the problem, you’re lucky. And the people who wrote this aticle are also not stupids. Such a disappointing comment!
Sudhir Ganguli says:
Killing the Windows explorer and restarting, solved the issue for me. Thanks a lot for help.
Vishal Kashyap says:
same here bro
Tony Berka says:
The first fix worked for me!!! Thank you so much for the help – I was worried about what to do but your clear concise instructions did the trick and made me feel a little more “IT” and willing to fix things on my own – with your help of course. Thanks again!!!!!! :)))
Vic says:
Option 2 worked best for me however .. I had to find restart the OS afterwards..

Thank you for the advice!

Roberto says:
Looks like option 2, as in restarting explorer, fixed this problem for me, it was also easier cause it’s something I already used before, just had no idea it could fix problems such as these, in this case I suppose restarting pc could work too; I tried option 1 first but was unsuccessful since after putting in the 2nd command it still said it was unable to restore the files.

In any case, good guide!

Jamayca says:
I love it. Thank you so much. It’s so much a help.

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